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Second Anointing or Second Endowment

From Wikipedia [as of March 9, 2011]: In the Latter Day Saint movement, the second anointing, also known historically and in Latter Day Saint scripture as the fullness of the priesthood, is an obscure and relatively rare ordinance usually conducted in temples as extension of the Nauvoo Endowment ceremony. Founder Joseph Smith, Jr. cited the "fullness of the priesthood" as one of the reasons for building the Nauvoo Temple (D&C 124:28). In the ordinance, a participant is anointed as a "priest and king" or a "priestess and queen", and is sealed to the highest degree of salvation available in Mormon theology. Those who participate in this ordinance are said to have their "calling and election made sure", and their celestial marriage "sealed by the holy spirit of promise". They are said to have received the "more sure word of prophecy".

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest Latter Day Saint denomination, has performed the ceremony for nominated couples from the 1840s to ther present day. Current information about the practice by that denomination, or whether the ordinance is still in use, has not been made officially public by the LDS Church.


Although Joseph Smith, Jr. introduced the Nauvoo Endowment in 1842, he came to understand that his work in establishing the "fullness of the priesthood" was not yet complete. In August 1843, church leader Brigham Young stated that "[i]f any in the Church had the fullness of the priesthood, he did not know it", nevertheless, Young understood that the "fullness of the priesthood" involved an anointing as "king and priest", with the actual kingdom to be given later.

The initial second anointing took place on September 28, 1843, when Joseph and his wife Emma Smith received it. During Smith's lifetime, the second anointing was given to at least 20 men and 17 women (Buerger 1983, pp. 22–23). After Smith died in June 1844, Brigham Young assumed control of the LDS Church, and in January 1846, he began administering the second anointing in the nearly-completed Nauvoo Temple. Young re-administered the ordinance to many of those who had received it under Joseph Smith, and he delegated his authority to others, who performed nearly 600 second anointings (some to polygamous unions) before the temple was closed on February 7, 1846 (Buerger 1983, p. 26).

After the trek to Utah, the LDS Church did not conduct further second anointings until late 1866. Beginning in the 1870s, second anointings were performed vicariously (Buerger 1983, p. 30). In the 1880s, then President of the Church John Taylor was concerned that too many second anointings were being performed, and he instituted a series of procedural safeguards, requiring recommendation by a stake president, and a guideline that the ordinance "belonged particularly to old men" (Buerger 1983, pp. 32–33). In 1901, President Lorenzo Snow further limited accessibility to the ordinance by outlining stringent criteria for worthiness (Buerger 1983, pp. 33–34).

By 1918, over 14,000 second anointings had been performed for the living and the dead. (Buerger 1983, p. 39). During the administration of Heber J. Grant in the 1920s, however, the frequency of second anointings was dramatically reduced. Stake presidents were no longer allowed to recommend candidates for the ordinance, that privilege falling only to members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles (Buerger 1983, pp. 39–40). By 1941, just under 15,000 second anointings had been performed for the living, and just over 6,000 for the dead (Buerger 1983, p. 41). The church has not allowed historians to have access to second anointing records subsequent to 1941; therefore, the current frequency of anointings is obscure. However, it is known that in 1942, 13 of the church's 32 General Authorities had not received the second anointing (Buerger 1983, p. 41). By 1949, the practice had been "practically discontinued" by the LDS Church.


According to 19th-century journal entries, the second anointing ceremony consisted of two parts. The first part consisted of a washing and anointing of the bodies of the participants by an officiator. The second part took place some time later, and was conducted without an officiator in a private ceremony between a married couple, in which the wife symbolically prepared her husband for his death and resurrection (Buerger 1983, pp. 26–27). Because participants are charged not to discuss the ceremony with others, it is not known whether the ceremony as currently practiced is the same as that practiced in the 19th century, or whether the ceremony has changed over time.

Meaning and symbolism

The "first anointing" refers to the washing and anointing part of the Endowment ceremony, in which a person is anointed to become a king and priest or a queen and priestess unto God. In the second anointing, on the other hand, participants are anointed as a king and priest, or queen and priestess. When the anointing is given, according to Brigham Young, the participant "will then have received the fulness of the Priesthood, all that can be given on earth."

Thus, the second anointing differs from the "first anointing" (part of the Endowment ceremony) in that, the first anointing promises blessings in the afterlife contingent on the patron's faithfulness, the Second Anointing actually bestows those blessings. According to prominent 20th-century Latter-day Saint Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, those who have their calling and election made sure "receive the more sure word of prophecy, which means that the Lord seals their exaltation upon them while they are yet in this life.…[T]heir exaltation is assured."

The second anointing may have been intended to symbolize or to literally fulfill scriptural references to the fulness of the priesthood such as in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 124:28, a revelation by Joseph Smith, Jr. commanding the building of a temple in Nauvoo, Illinois, in part, because "there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood." (emphasis added). LDS Church leaders often connect this ordinance with a statement by Peter in his second Epistle. In 2 Peter 1:10, he talks about making one's "calling and election sure," and further remarks, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy" (2 Peter 1:19). Joseph Smith, Jr. referenced this process in saying, "When the Lord has thoroughly proved [a person], and finds that the [person] is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the [person] will find his[/her] calling and election made sure".

The second anointing is given only to married couples. A few writers have argued that because of this women who receive the second anointing, in which they are anointed queens and priestesses, are ordained to the "fulness of the priesthood" the same as their husbands. These scholars feel that Joseph Smith may have considered these women to have, in fact, received the power of the priesthood (though not necessarily a specific priesthood office)

Reference: Link is here.


For much of LDS Church history, the second anointing was the crowning ordinance of the Restoration. The first anointing is the endowment ceremony that continues today, and it concerns blessings in the afterlife, like becoming kings and queens, priests and priestesses. The second anointing actually bestows those blessings temporally and furthermore secures one‘s exaltation in heaven. By 1949, nearly 33,000 of these anointings had been performed, but as General Authorities eventually deprived local leaders the discretion to recommend the anointings, the practice became increasing rare and is nearly non-existent today. (The Development of LDS Temple Worship, Devery Anderson, ps. xli-xlv)

What about those that apostacized after receiving their Second Anointing?

The Second Anointing seems to guarantee Celestial Salvation for anyone that received it. That seems to imply that if someone transgresses after receiving their Second Anointing that those sins won't count against them. In practice, the majority of people receiving their S.A. are probably solid, upstanding church members and probably won't drastically alter their lifestyles e.g. if they were righteous before their S.A. they will be righteous after their S.A. The only reason a person having received the second anointing can fail to receive their exaltation in the next life is to shed innocent blood according to D&C 132.

However, they have been those that claimed to have received their Second Anointing but have completely withdrawn from the church and now have no testimony whatsoever of the church. We have to wonder why the Lord would choose such people to receive their Second Anointings.

Church manuals on the Second Anointing

Per Doctrines of the Gospel manual, available online at the church website: Chapter 19--Eternal Life

Caution: Exercise caution while discussing the doctrine of having our calling and election made sure. Avoid speculation. Use only the sources given here and in the student manual. Do not attempt in any way to discuss or answer questions about the second anointing.

Second Anointings Continue Through Today

Although it has been rumored by many members that the second anointing ordinances are still practiced, it has been mostly speculation and second-hand accounts. But now, a former stake president has come forward with his story and provides a first-hand account of his second anointing.

In 2012, former stake president Thomas Phillips went public and was a guest on the Mormon Stories Podcasts by John Dehlin. He gave an account of the second anointing. performed by the highest leaders of the church for both Thomas and his wife. He also said that afterwards he was asked to recommend other couples for the ordinance but to keep it quiet and not to discuss that he and his wife had received their second anointing. Apparently the practice is more widespread than most members know as the ordinance is not limited to General Authorities as Brother Phillips was a stake president when he received his second anointing.

The Mormon Stories Podcast featuring Thomas Phillips is very interesting and one of the best we've heard. It is over 4 hours but filled with very interesting information and not 'anti-Mormon' at all but reveals the struggle a faithful, high-ranking church leader has had and continues to have after learning about many problematic issues of church history and doctrinal beliefs.

Note: John Dehlin of mormonstories elected to not air the interview due to pressure from the Church, however Tom Phillips decided that he would make it available himself. This is the unedited 4+ hr version provided by Brother Phillips. (note: Tom Phillips is still a member of the church).

All Information, podcasts, letters, discussions available here: Tom Phillips

Ending Comment

Many non-LDS do not understand or agree with the concept of the second anointing. The second anointing essentially judges a persons' worthiness and purportedly guarantees that person entrance into the highest degree of heaven regardless of how they live their lives afterwards (the only reason a person having received the second anointing can fail to receive their exaltation in the next life is to shed innocent blood according to D&C 132). The first issue is How can mortal men (even apostles) judge a man (and his wife) when judgments are believed to be done by God himself at the Judgment Bar? The second issue is what happens if these people commit serious sins after receiving their second anointings? We wonder how Tom Phillips case would be handled by God if indeed the LDS Church is true and Tom received his Second Anointing, then became an unbeliever?

See Tom Phillips

Additional Resources

The Fullness of the Priesthood: The Second Anointing in Latter-day Saint Theology and Practice by David John Buerger, Dialogue Vol 16 No 1 Link is here.

The Second Anointing provided at - Link is here.

Second Anointing or Second Endowment by Richard Packham -

The Ordinance of Second Anointings: "An Outline of the Ordinance of Second Anointings" Link is here. and "The Washing of the Feet" Link is here., both by Richard Ware.

Ordinances: The Second Anointing, Chapter 6 of Power from On High by Gregory A. Prince. Link is here.


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